River Hill and Wilde Lake’s 3A East playoff game Thursday came down to a sudden death penalty kick.
Although, after playing to a 0-0 tie during regulation, it wasn’t the kind most were expecting.
With under a minute left in the first overtime period, River Hill’s Mike Heitzmann was tripped up in the box and the Hawks were awarded a penalty kick. And given the golden opportunity, junior Zach Riso calmly stepped up and made the most of it.
Finishing into the right side of the net, Riso provided the deciding tally in a 1-0 victory that gives the Hawks a berth in the region quarterfinals.
“Come playoffs, you’re practicing (penalty kicks) every day because you figure at some point you’re going to have to go there,” River Hill coach Matt Shagogue said. “It’s not something you want to happen, but the key is to be ready when the situation presents itself.”
Riso said after a game full of missed opportunities for both teams, he personally was ready for the pressure shot.
“Mike goes down, I was just thinking ‘Alright, I’ve got step up and win the game now for him,’ ” Riso said. “We had a lot of opportunities throughout the game that we just could not finish. So, yeah, I felt like I couldn’t miss that one.”
Wilde Lake’s defense, led by Colin Tiffey and Alex Broholm in front of goalie Kiho Park (7 saves), had done a stand-up job the entire evening to get the game into overtime.
River Hill had plenty of chances, including one-on-one shots by Jake Turney and Heitzmann in the second half that both went wide right. Wilde Lake simply kept finding a way to keep itself in the game.
“It always gets frustrating because you never know if it’s going to come back and get you … Wilde Lake is a very good team and all they need is one to go in and suddenly we’re on the other end of it,” Shagogue said.
Wilde Lake had a couple quality chances of its own. River Hill goalie Tomas Potts (6 saves) had to make a leaping save on a free kick with five minutes left in regulation and then another tough stop on a hard shot by Wilde Lake’s Zach Smythe shortly after.
Ultimately, though, the game stayed scoreless up until those final seconds of the first overtime when Heitzman went sprawling to the turf to set up the deciding goal.
“It’s literally a game of inches and we just came an inch short tonight,” Wilde Lake coach Jon Robinson said. “These kids, all year, gave us everything they could possibly give us. We got our feet tangled up there at the end and, it’s unfortunate but that was the game.”
River Hill now advances to face Stephen Decatur on the road in the next round of the playoffs.
Howard 1, Northeast 1 (Howard won 6-5 in Penalty Kicks)
Stepping to the line for his team’s 11th penalty kick Thursday, Howard goalie Jake Claunch got the chance to play hero on both sides of the ball in the Lions’ 3A East region opening game. Burying his shot into the left side of the net, the senior turned around and was between the pipes as Northeast missed its ensuing shot.
With that, Howard was able to storm the field and celebrate a victory that extended their season.
“It was probably our best penalty kick of all 11,” Howard coach Nils Schroeder said. “It was a real hard shot into the bottom left corner. He just walked up, buried it and then turned around and went back in goal.”
Claunch ended up making four saves during the penalty kicks, allowing the Lions to extend things long enough to eventually pull out the victory.
Howard had gotten its goal during regulation from Justin Simmons off an assist from Jake Spalding. The Lions now advance to face top-seeded Centennial in the regional quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Mt. Hebron 2, Annapolis 0 (3A East)
Goals: MH – Emmanuel Wright, Lucas Rose.
Assists: MH – Rose, Wright.